Xbox 360 Review: Homefront

Home is where the war is…

The year is 2027. The world as we know it is unravelling after fifteen years of economic meltdown and widespread global conflict over dwindling natural resources. A once proud America has fallen, her infrastructure shattered and military in disarray. Crippled by a devastating EMP strike, the USA is powerless to resist the ever expanding occupation of a savage, nuclear armed Greater Korean Republic. Abandoned by her former allies, the United States is a bleak landscape of walled towns and abandoned suburbs. This is a police state where high school stadiums have become detention centres, and shopping malls shelter armoured attack vehicles. A once-free people are now prisoners or collaborators or revolutionaries.

The plot of Homefront is one that is quite plausible. The game opens up with your character Jacobs being dragged out by the Koreans onto a school bus heading to a detention centre, but he’s rescued by rebels looking to break the Korean stronghold on America. I enjoyed the story, but the campaign is short compared to other FPS on the market and the game ends up on a cliff-hanger which sets up an inevitable sequel.

If you’ve ever played any Call of Duty or Medal of Honor, then you’ll feel right at home with Homefront. The controls are essentially the same, although Homefront does give you some extras like a huge tank called the Goliath which you give targets to blow up. Goliath does make some missions quite easy, but it’s not used in every mission. You’re usually always accompanied with team-mates that will do quite a lot of the fighting for you, plus they can’t die.

If there’s a major problem in the campaign, it’s that it’s far too scripted. There are times where I just wanted to run through a previous played section, but was unable to due to other character having to walk ahead of me to progress the plot. It doesn’t help that each Chapter has an achievement for not dying or reloading a checkpoint, which is frustrating when you put 30 mins into a level only to get blown up by an RPG or downed by a helicopter. There are also 61 collectable newspapers scattered across the levels for those who like to hunt down collectables while under gunfire.

Despite the problems with the campaign, it does bring home the reality of what war on U.S soil would look like. Especially when you’re fighting through American institutions like Hooters and White Castle, then there’s the disturbing scene where you and your allies need to jump in a mass grave to hide from a scouting patrol. There are some truly amazing moments to be found in the story that I wasn’t expecting and perhaps hasn’t been credited as much as it should have been.

The short campaign builds you upto the main focus, which is online. You’ll need to use a Battle Pass to unlock play past reaching Level 5 with XP, so be careful if you buy a used copy. Homefront’s multiplayer has a mixture of Team Deathmatch and capturing territory modes. For everything you do, you earn Battle Points which can be used to buy new equipment in that match and that match alone…so spend wisely! As with COD, you get different classes and perks for your player like flak jackets, RPGs and even remote control drones that can get quite a few kills providing it isn’t shot down or you aren’t killed. There are a few issues with online at the moment, but I’ve seen the potential and expect any balancing/server issues to be fixed through updates. It’s not perfect, but the multiplayer should keep you playing for a considerable amount of time to reach Level 50 and complete all the challenges.

In terms of visuals, Homefront is mixed. There are times where it looks truly great and others where it looks distinctively average with explosion effects like suddenly vanish, average character models and the odd visual bug that is disappointing to come across. Voice-acting is decent and character development isn’t too shabby, while the soundtrack brings home the true price of war.

The Verdict

Homefront won’t win GOTY or anything like that, but it does have an interesting story of a war-torn America and shows that right and wrong are two sides of the same coin. Online isn’t at its best right now, but it will get there through updates over time and is still addictive despite this. If you are looking for the next FPS hit till the next COD, then look no further.